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EX PRIZE: Google’s $ 30 million moon race ends without a winner

It's official: the $ 30 million Google Lunar X Award no longer exists.

"After a close consultation with our five Google Lunar X Prize finalists in recent months, we have come to the conclusion that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the moon before March 31, 2018, deadline, "the founder and president of the X Prize, Peter Diamandis, said in a joint statement today (January 23) with Marcus Shingles, CEO of the organization.

"This lunar literal" is difficult, and although we were expecting a winner, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the Google Lunar X Award of $ 30 million it will not be claimed, "they added.

The acknowledgment confirms the news damaged yesterday by CNBC.

The Google Lunar X Award (GLXP) was announced in 2007, with the stated goal of encouraging commercial space flights and exploration. The contest challenged private-funded teams to put a robotic spacecraft on the moon, move the spacecraft to 1,640 feet (500 meters) and have it broadcast high-definition photos and video to Earth.

The first team to do so would win the $ 20 million grand prize. The second place team would get $ 5 million, and an additional $ 5 million was available for several special achievements, bringing the total bag to $ 30 million. The GLXP has awarded more than $ 6 million so far, for several milestones that the teams have achieved. (The important prizes would count for the first or second total team, and would not increase it, so the money delivered by the GLXP would not have exceeded $ 30 million)

The deadline was originally the end of 2012, but the representatives of GLXP delayed it several times, until March 31 of this year. Apparently, Google did not want to grant another extension, but that does not necessarily mean that the moon race is completely canceled.

"X Prize is exploring a series of ways to proceed from here," Diamandis and Shingles said in today's statement. "This may include finding a new main sponsor to provide a prize on the stock exchange following the steps of Google's generosity, or continuing the Lunar X Prize as a non-cash competition where we will track and promote the teams and help celebrate their achievements."

Several dozen teams threw their hats in the ring during the course of the decade-long GLXP competition, but that group was eventually reduced to five finalists: Moon Express based in Florida, Team Hakuto from Japan, SpaceIL from Israel, Team Indus of India and international team Synergy Moon.

Several of these teams have emphasized that the GLXP, although it was a useful stimulus, was not the main reason for its existence.

"SpaceIL is committed to landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon, regardless of the terms or status of the Lunar X Prize," SpaceIL spokesman Ryan Greiss told Space.com by e-mail. "We are at the peak of our efforts to raise funds for this project and prepare for the launch."

And Moon Express CEO Bob Richards wrote the following words earlier this month, as part of an opinion piece for Space News: "The competition was a sweetener in the business case scenario, but it has never the business case itself, we continue to focus on our core business plans of collapse of the cost of access to the moon, our partnership with NASA and our long-term vision of unlocking lunar resources for the benefit of life on Earth. and our future in space. "

The Hakuto team may still have a lunar legacy: the company is led by Tokyo-based startup iSpace, which also plans to exploit lunar resources. iSpace recently raised $ 90 million in investment funds to help you achieve this goal.

"We are inspired by the progress of the Google Lunar X Award teams and will continue to support your trip, one way or another, and we will be there to help us focus them when they achieve that momentous goal," said Diamandis and Shingles in the statement. from today.


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